More than 1,800 workers joined company payrolls in north Nottinghamshire during June this year, which equated to the biggest monthly rise since Covid-19 reared its ugly head.
The increase is believed to have coincided with the reopening of indoor hospitality in pubs and restaurants after the latest national lockdown.
Companies have also been hiring staff in preparation for the final lifting of restrictions, which happened on Monday July 19.
The data, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reveals that an estimated 208,958 workers were on company payrolls in north Notts, which includes Mansfield, Worksop, Southwell and Retford.
That was 1,861 more people than in May, representing the highest monthly leap during the 16-month period from February last year, just before the UK was plunged into its first lockdown.
However, June’s figure was still 187 down on the number payrolled during February 2020.
Darren Morgan, of the ONS, said: “The labour market is continuing to recover, with the number of employees on payrolls up strongly in June.
"However, it is still down on pre-pandemic levels, while a large number of workers remain on furlough.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak says more people returning to work is a sign that the country’s economy is “rebounding”.
But business leaders have warned that there could still be a shortage of staff, and skills, because of a rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country, caused by the Delta variant.
Matthew Percival, director for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: “Business’s ability to meet demand, and support for the recovery, is being challenged by staff shortages.
"As Covid cases rise, firms are facing the double difficulty of hiring workers and more employees self-isolating.”
The payroll data from the ONS is based on people receiving pay through PAYE, which is HMRC’s system for collecting income tax from salaries.
In north Notts, the median salary of payrolled workers increased by £6 from May to June to £1,818 a month. In February 2020, it was £1,710 a month.